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Corio Villa

Cliff Vestergaard

Joined February 2007

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Artist's Description

Corio Villa, Geelong, Austalia

My own photography from a trip to Geelong with my magic added.

A single-storey prefabricated iron house designed by Bell & Miller, architects and engineers, manufactured in Edinburgh, Scotland by Charles D. Young & Co. and assembled in Australia by Alfred Douglass in 1856.
Soon after its production and shipping to Geelong the factory and all the moulds were destroyed by fire, thus ensuring ‘Corio Villa’s’ uniqueness
in Australia.

The crates arrived at the Cunningham pier, Geelong in 1855 with apparently no indication of a name of the consignee. Later it was discovered that William Nairn Gray, Commissioner of Crown Lands, Portland district had originally ordered the house, but had died before the crates arrived unclaimed.

Alfred Douglas, who had a successful wool washing business in Geelong purchased the relics from the Port Authority for a small sum.
The heavy cast iron pieces were hauled up the Eastern Beach hill and assembled on its present site overlooking Corio Bay.

The walls are prefabricated from ½” cast iron boiler plate. The sheets 3’ X 3’ were then bolted together to form wall sections complete with window openings. Internal linings are of lath and plaster. Sashes are solid cast iron which slide into wall cavities. Verandah posts and porch supports are cast in the most delicate filigree patterns.

Most of the decorative work echoes the pattern of the rose, and the thistle of Scotland. There are classic vases of delightful proportions which serve as decorative flower pots on the sun porches and about the house. The lion’s head motif is repeated as a “keystone” to each arch
in verandahs and porches and strikes a note of kingly grandeur.
Barge boards are likewise of cast iron delicately patterned in fretwork.

The overall composition is formal yet delicate, comprising a main entrance porch leading into a hall on either side of which are gabled roofed parallel wings flanked by filigree verandahs.

Overall, the craftsmanship is of a remarkably high standard. Historically ‘Corio Villa’ is of considerable interest, it is an increasingly rare example of a Victorian gold rush era.

Architecturally its significance is incalculable as ‘Corio Villa’ is by far the most ornate and splendid prefabricated house in Australia and possibly the world

Artwork Comments

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